Waterberg Habitats 2 – Valleys, Gorges & Cliff bases

By 27th September 2016Uncategorised

The diversity of the Waterberg communities of plants becomes even more apparent when venturing into the valleys intersecting the slopes running alongside the river’s edge. Be it in the shade of a cliff base or the shelter of a forest-like gorge interspersed with temporary rock pools and periodical waterfalls one sometimes feel you have entered a whole new world, so noticeable is the change in vegetation and scenery. On Ka’Ingo this type of landscape is most conspicuous in the Woodstock region of the Reserve.

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There are some trees endemic to this habitat, but what is also apparent is that other trees also found in other habitats can grow to immense and uncommon size because of the deposited soils rich in humus and organic matter washed down from the escarpment. Typical trees found in the valleys or the case of Ka’Ingo, gorges, are Blue bitterberry (Strychnos usambarensis), Thorny elm (Chaetacme aristata), Greenthorn (Balanites maughamii) Northern hedge (Gymnosporia polyacantha) and uniquely the Saucerberry (Cordia ovalis). Common trees found in this valley of unusually large size are Tamboti (Spirostachys africana), Red milkwood (Mimusops zeyheri) and Weeping boerbean (Schotia brachypetala).

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Other plants found typically in this type of valley are Stag fern and Bracken fern in the deeper gorges and Pig’s ear and Kalanchoe towards the higher slopes.  Birdlife is rife with birds often more likely encountered in forested areas with species like Narina trogon, Southern boubou, Jackal buzzard and the melodious Striped pipit. Mammals likely to be found are Bushbuck, Bushpig, Mountain reedbuck Leopard, Nyala, both species of Genet, Kudu and Klipspringer.

These gorges seem to have had the same appeal for the historic inhabitants of the area as it does for us today judging by the amount of rock art and signs of temporary habitation found on the walls at the bottom the towering cliffs.

The most rewarding way to experience this beautiful fairyland type of landscape is to follow the stream from the escarpment down to the river valley below.  Fortunately this is possible to do as an activity at Ka’Ingo Private Game Reserve as we have trails following the Woodstock walk – and Leopard gorges, so chalk it up on your to do list when you set up your activity list in anticipation of your visit to Ka’Ingo.

Bibliography

Gutteridge, L, The south african bushveld, a field guide to the Waterberg, Southbound, Johannesburg, 2008

Palgraves, KC, Trees of southern Africa, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 2002

van Wyk, B, van Wyk, P, Field guide to trees of southern africa, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 2013

Stuart, C, Stuart, T, Field guide to mammals of southern Africa, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 2002

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